Do you ever read Seth Godin’s blog?
Seth Godin is a marketing genius and has several NYT Bestsellers to back up that claim. His blog is one of the most well-read in the B2B industry, and is always very insightful and pushes the boundaries of thought. I try to keep up with his stuff for work-related purposes, but since deciding to start my own business I’ve been paying much closer attention to his posts.
Yesterday he asked 16 questions to “free agents,” or people who are the entrepreneur / freelancer / project manager type. I thought that since I am an entrepreneur I should answer these questions for myself and leave them in a public place so that people can see why I am starting OmNom Treats.
Hereeeee we go:
1. Who are you trying to please?
Myself. Me, myself, and I. If I were trying to please others I would have been a doctor or a diplomat by now.
2. Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?
Hmmm, well making a living is obviously helpful. I’m working on getting used to the idea that I probably won’t be making a ton of money, but that my ultimate happiness is better than having the newest car or the nicest handbag.
I also do want to make a difference. I want to give back to the communities that I will someday be sourcing chocolate from… I’d love to make sure the employees at the chocolate farms/plants are paid a decent wage & have a roof over their heads. On a local level, I want to do my part to encourage nutrition and culinary education in schools, and support local farmers as well. I believe everything in moderation, and if we can teach that to the generations coming after us then they may have a chance to lead healthier (& happier) lives than we’ve lead. If making a difference turns into leaving a legacy, then awesome, but that’s not something that I am banking on.
3. How will the world be different when you’ve succeeded?
It will be yummier. Treats will be more well designed, and they’ll be enjoyed. People will be more educated about nutrition, chocolate, and happiness so that they don’t feel guilty for an occasional indulgence.
4. Is it more important to add new customers or to increase your interactions with existing ones?
I’m going to say both. I don’t have a huge customer base so its very important to me to add new customers, but its also equally important to bolster relationships with existing customers. Existing customers will continue to purchase your goods, and can also turn into Brand Ambassadors and Promoters for your company (thereby bringing in new customers)!! Both are equally important to me and my business.
5. Do you want a team? How big? (I know, that’s two questions)
It’s ok, I’ll forgive you. Yes I’d love to be at the point where I am big enough to have a team. I’m not looking to create a Treat empire, but an extra couple sets of hands would be very helpful. I personally hate folding & filling pastry bags, so it would be nice to have a helper for that. It would also be good to have a team when selling/promoting at street festivals and things like that.
6. Would you rather have an open-ended project that’s never done, or one where you hit natural end points? (How high is high enough?)
Uh, in my industry you have to have end points. Otherwise you’ll never sell anything.
7. Are you prepared to actively sell your stuff, or are you expecting that buyers will walk in the door and ask for it?
Yes I am prepared to actively sell. I don’t have a storefront, so there literally isn’t a door that buyers can walk through. I am researching street festivals and farmer’s markets to be a part of in order to sell my wares and get my name out there.
8. Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?
Well, I’m always interested in ingenuity and I am looking for ways to reinvent the wheel. I don’t want to be like every other cupcake shop in the Bay, which is why I make more than cupcakes. I also don’t think OmNom Treats will be my only entrepreneurial venture. I have a concept for a restaurant/cafe that I haven’t seen yet in this area. At the same time, the methods behind Kara’s Cupcakes and Teacake Bakeshop have obviously worked so I’d also like to be like them… but better.
9. If you take someone else’s investment, are you prepared to sell out to pay it back?
I mean, yeah. I really have issues with being in debt… I don’t like it. I’d probably have a difficult time taking someone else’s investment anyways, but if things aren’t working out at some point you have to cut your losses. Plus, its just bad business to not repay your investors.
10. Are you done personally growing, or is this project going to force you to change and develop yourself?
I’m 24, this project will most DEFINITELY force me to change and develop. I hope that I’ll become smarter, wiser, and more relaxed as time goes on, but I know I will be forever changed from this. Sidenote: I don’t think that humans ever stop changing & developing. At every stage in our lives we change a bit more… but that can be another conversation.
11. Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask…
Hahaha, uhhhh this kind of goes along with question #6. In my industry, I feel that you can teach/lead to a certain extent but for the most part you have to do what they ask. If someone wants a pink cake for a birthday party, I can’t give her a purple one because that’s not what they asked for.
12. How long can you wait before it feels as though you’re succeeding?
I’ve seen that “success” takes time, and that it also comes in different forms. Until I’m financially successful? I probably couldn’t wait too long. Maybe a couple years once I start doing OmNoms full time? Again, I don’t like being in debt, and I do have rent to pay, so I can’t wait forever. Until I’m technically successful? I could definitely wait several years. Practice makes perfect, and I do still want to go to pastry school in the future to refine my techniques.
13. Is perfect important? (Do you feel the need to fail privately, not in public?)
Perfect is important to an extent. I’m known to be a perfectionist, but in the sense I hate to find any imperfections on my products. I don’t want to give someone a cake with wrinkled fondant, or with less than straight lines. I know that my business will not be perfection. If I fail, I’d probably prefer to do it privately, but I don’t plan (and don’t want to plan) on failing at all.
14. Do you want your customers to know each other (a tribe) or is it better they be anonymous and separate?
I’d love for my customers to know each other! In an industry that depends a lot upon the reviews and recommendations of others, it makes perfect sense for customers to connect. I think that social media outlets (specifically Facebook) makes it so easy for customers to interact and share their experiences with one another. I also think that their growing closeness helps to keep businesses accountable for upholding the highest standards.
15. How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we’re on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)
Oh geezus. Time to think about what I don’t want to think about. I’ve made the decision to start this business & have already secured my work environment. I’m submitting the appropriate paperwork and starting to generate interest for my business & products. I guess you could say that I’m willing to risk it all. If I decide not to do this there’s going to be 70 (maybe more?) people in my social network who will know, along with other people that I’ve discussed my plans with. That’s a lot of humiliation, and it terrifies me, but I know I can do this. And I know I have the determination and cognitive skills to succeed.
In terms of criticism I have to be open to it. Everything I’ve done up until this point I’ve asked people to rip my work apart, but they won’t. I haven’t had a ton of bad criticism yet, but I do need to be open an accepting to it once it comes my way. If a customer doesn’t like my work, I’d first like the chance to make it up to them. If they still don’t like my work the 2nd time, then c’est la vie. Criticism is part of the game.
16. What does busy look like?
Busy looks like weekends are so full that I can’t think straight. Busy looks like me turning down more orders than accepting them due to time constraints. Busy looks like a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Busy looks like a successful business to me.
And there you have it. Do you have any other questions for me? Any suggestions? Any advice I should consider?